As I plod laboriously through foundation listings looking for possible supporters of or partners with the African Storybook Project [see earlier posts], I continue to be stunned by the sheer size of the non-profit world. As I think I explained, I obtained access through Duke University to an on-line database of more than two million [!] American charitable foundations, most of them granted tax-exempt status under Article 501, sub-paragraph (c)(3) of the Federal tax code. [Hence the familiar phrase, "five oh one cee three organization."] Thirty-five years ago, two current members of the Duke Philosophy Department were my students, so they arranged for me to have a phantom "adjunct professor" status at the university, which in turn gives me access to the library's research databases.
More than two million charitable foundations! That is one for every one hundred fifty people in the United States, including children. That must be almost as many foundations as there are gas stations.
Using the key words "Africa children education" I winnowed the two million down to 1113. After reading through the database listing for each of them, I narrowed the search to forty-eight, and I am now doing a closer reading of those listings in order to decide which of them I ought to contact to open a discussion.
As you might expect, many of the 1113 focus on HIV/AIDS in children. Many are Christian foundations whose primary organizational goal is to spread the Good News, or Gospel. Some of the organizations that came up in the search are tiny, with assets and income ranging from $25,000 to zero. A few are enormous, sporting endowments in the hundreds of millions. The Master Card Foundation has assets in the billions.
Will all of this sifting ans sorting actually help little kids in sub-Saharan Africa to become literate? Good question. We shall see.